“EXODUS” INTERVIEW by DILLON COLLINS
The unsung heroes of thrash, the Bay Area barons, Exodus are unrivaled when it comes to blistering tours, consistently quaking records and a blood-bond that have endeared them to metal fans for nearly four decades.
On the heels of the highly anticipated Battle of the Bays tour with death metal masters Obituary, and with rumours swirling of a follow-up record to 2014s paralyzing Blood In, Blood Out, frontman Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza caught up with Metalheads Forever to talk passion, thrashin’ and a band that grows finer with age.
Exodus is taking part in the Battle of the Bays with the mighty Obituary, Power Trip and Dust Bolt. Originally, yourselves and Obituary toured Europe, so it clearly must have been an awesome experience to lead to a North American trek.
Zetro: I think we got along really well. It was a great package and the Obituary guys were really easy to get along with. We had the same interests and the same mentality as Exodus in terms of their touring routine, what they do backstage. We just got along so well. Halfway through that tour we were talking about doing it in the States next year. We knew we were going to do this in February.
A tour like this really brings together sub-genres of metal, with longtime thrash fans turning up for Exodus and of course, death metal lovers for Obituary. How has that dynamic been in the past and how do you think metal fans have reacted to this hybrid tour?
Zetro: I think fans, especially the second-tier generation, appreciate it. There’s going to be Power Trip and Dust Bolt on the opener. Power Trip is an up-and-coming killer band, and Dust Bolt too. It’s like the cream of the old school coming together with the cream of the new school that’s coming up. It’s going to be a really good package. I’m excited to see everybody coming out for this one.
I’d argue that some of the strongest thrash offerings in decades have come out in the past four to five years. What’s your take on the state of thrash music today and how it has progressed since the 1980s?
Zetro: I think the classic thrash bands have all put out quality albums and even some of the newer thrash bands. I had a thing with my kids a couple of years ago, which they actually continued, Hatriot. Since I’ve been so busy with Exodus I haven’t been able to do that. But I love Havok, love Toxic Holocaust. I love the newer thrash bands. Unfortunately some of the ones that came around in the millennium like Shadows Fall and Chimera, there have been some casualties in some of those types of bands. They weren’t able to keep a steadfast head-scheme going and couldn’t continue. I think as far as Megadeth, Slayer, Metallica, Exodus, Anthrax, Overkill, Kreator, Sodom, Death Angel, Testament, everyone is putting out quality stuff right now. I don’t think you can look back at a record from any one of those bands where you say ‘meh that was alright.’ I think everyone is bringing their A-game and I think that helps keep the genre strong as well.
Speaking of bringing the A-game, your most recent record Blood In, Blood Out was met with raucous fan response and is considered one of the finest albums in the Exodus catalogue.
Zetro: It’s my favourite. Out of the ones I did with the band I love every song on it. I love the growth, I love the maturity and I love the ferocity of these songs. We’ll be three years plus into this in October since the record has come out and believe me we know that. Mr. Gary Holt is almost done with the Slayer guys, in fact I think they’re done for awhile so we’ll be jumping back into finishing writing the Exodus record. We’re looking forward to that in 2018, probably early 2018 maybe early Spring. It’s just got to be right. I think again we’re all older guys and we know what we want so we’re not taking advantage of the business by coming in and just doing it. We’re definitely taking a serious note with it. This is what we do, this is what we wanted, this is what we are. Why put out something sub-par? And I don’t think anybody’s attitude is like that.
Zetro: I was in Exodus, the way I look at it, for over 30 years. If you’re not, you’re still in Exodus. I didn’t have a problem going in and knowing what to do. I know exactly what to do. I know what they’re looking for and exactly what to do in the songs.
Of course many metal fans are aware that longtime Exodus fixture Gary Holt has picked up guitar duties with the mighty Slayer. How has that balancing act been for him and the band itself? Do you think it will have an impact on the Exodus record itself, and do you have a timeline on potential new material?
Zetro: You guys would know [if the record was affected], metalheads are smart. They know if they’re being dealt a shitty hand. They’re not going to put up with it, and why would we? Why would we do something sub-par where the fans would go ahhhh! I see what you’re doing here! We don’t want that.
I think we’re slated for November-December. That’s what I was told. I think fall or early winter. I’ve already heard a few songs he’s put down with drum machine. He has all that gear that he takes on tour with him with Slayer. I’ve heard finished songs already that are really, really heavy and are very typical Gary Holt. It’s always good to have changes. I think there will be some element of that because the lineup stayed the same, but from what I’ve heard I like what I’ve heard. I think it’s very much evil. In one word it just sounds evil.
The one thing many metal purists have said of Exodus is that the passion each member bring to the table, as well as the fans, that passion and commitment, almost goes unrivaled in the genre. Would you say that commitment and passion is largely responsible for the longevity of Exodus?
Zetro: The fans, the band, everybody, it’s all family. We’re lucky to have a metal family so close and I think that’s the driving force for thrash in the first place, that it’s very family orientated and the fans take their band very close to heart. We take the fans the very same way. Unlike other genres of music where there’s the music and there’s the fans and then the music, I think music and fans work together with us.
The Battle of the Bays American Tour kicks off September 14th. For tickets and more visit exodusattack.com and stay tuned for a new Exodus record in 2018.
Exodus – BLOOD IN, BLOOD OUT – AVAILABLE AT NUCLEAR BLAST …
Official site, with biography, discography, news, tour dates, merchandise, pictures, message board and links. www.exodusattack.com
Dillon Collins/MHF Magazine